COUNCILLORS have been urged today to back the latest report on Peebles multi-million-pound second bridge proposal, which recommends narrowing down the options to three potential crossing sites.
And the final decision has been described as one of the biggest in the history of the Tweeddale town.
The environment and infrastructure committee will consider the STAG 2 Peebles Transport Study paper put together by MVA Consultancy, which suggests ruling out three sites previously earmarked as possible locations for the bridge.
Two of three scrapped by the new report – B1 and B2 – would have controversially passed through the town centre, which local group, A Bridge Too Far (ABTF), has campaigned against for the past 18 months.
Graham Lumb, chairman of ABTF, told TheSouthern: “We are delighted with the recommendations which discount the two options going through the town centre. We would now hope and expect the council would do the right thing and go with the report. If they don’t, we would seriously question the point of spending a considerable amount of taxpayers money getting consultants to put together this report. Without stating which option we prefer, I think the council needs to make a clear decision on a second bridge, and do it as soon as possible.”
The three proposed options put forward in the report all cross from the Cavalry Park area on the south side of the River Tweed, and come out at various points on the eastern edge of Peebles.
All three are east of Whitestone Park, which could have been dissected by the B2 crossing. Mr Lumb added: “Our campaign was really focused on B1 and B2. We felt either would have had a significant impact on the conservation area and the environment.
“What is the point of having a conservation area if you are going to build a big, modern road through it?
“Also, the fact that B2 would have been built through Whitestone Park, therefore losing a valuable sports and recreation facility, was another reason for our opposition.”
The study recommends a further consultation exercise and Tweeddale West councillor Catriona Bhatia believes the first meeting of the newly restated Tweeddale Area Forum – on November 26 – would be the perfect platform to launch such a fresh public discussion.
She told us: “Hopefully the narrowing of the options can lead to a proper debate in the town.
“This bridge will be built within the next 10 or 15 years but will have to last 100 years.
“I welcome the dropping of the two options to the town centre which were controversial.
“This is one of the biggest decisions for Peebles for quite some time and I think it would be perfect for Tweeddale Area Forum to look at.”
Fellow Tweeddale West councillor Willie Archibald, added: “I don’t think realistically this is going to happen any time soon, but people need to know if a second bridge is going to be built near their homes.
“They do not want the threat hanging over them for 20 years, so I believe a decision on the specific route needs to be made sooner rather than later.”
But Peebles third councillor, Nathaniel Buckingham, told TheSouthern: “Sufficient time needs to be given for the environment and infrastructure committee, Tweeddale Area Forum and other relevant groups such as the community council and civic society to give full consideration to this lengthy report.”